Tag Archives: Slimsticks

Plant Based Protein

Blog post written for Slimsticks.com 

Eating a more plant based diet is becoming increasingly popular and the current research is suggesting it’s the way to go. If you don’t want to go the whole “hog” then why not have a few meat free days in your week?

 A plant based diet is thought to reduce the risk of several cancers including throat, stomach, colon, prostrate and oesophagus. For example eating too much red meat and processed meat increases your risk of colon cancer. Eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds leads to a diet lower in fat and calories so can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. A plant based diet is also higher in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of which can help prevent disease such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

 But eating a more vegetarian diet does mean you need to plan and be a bit organised. Plant based protein foods do not contain the full complement of amino acids which can leave you lacking in protein. Therefore it is important to ensure that you eat a range of different protein foods. Good choices include nuts, fish, seeds, beans, legumes, eggs, cheese, dairy, tofu, quinoa and soya. 

 

Beans:lentils

Top tips for plant based protein:

  • Add seeds to salads and stir fries.
  • Top cereals with slivered nuts.
  • Experiment with beans, add them to curries, chilli, casseroles and salads.
  • Lentils make a great thickened for soups.
  • Hummous and nut butters are great at lunchtimes.
  • Stock up the freezer with a range of protein sources so you don’t run short.
  • Try bean chilli instead of beef chilli or using quorn mince as a minced beef substitute.
  • Eggs are fast, fantastic and packed full of protein – omelettes, frittata’s, boiled, scrambled, poached are all healthy options.

 

The Fibre Balance

(This post was written for Slimsticks and can also be seen over at their website.)

Fibre. It’s not sexy. It’s not glamorous. But it is essential if you want to have a healthy and effective digestive system. Digestive problems such as IBS are now common in the UK population. The most frequent symptoms being abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating, wind and constipation. Your first step should of course be to discuss these type of symptoms with your GP, however for many people some simple changed to your diet will make a big difference. For some people eating more fibre will be the key and for others it will be eating less fibre.

 I like to think about this as altering the “Fibre Balance”.  There is a balance between fibre and fluid that really does work.  Increasing the fibre content of your diet may increase bloating and flatulence initially but these symptom pass within 2 weeks leaving you with a better working digestive system, more “fecal bulk” as the system is flushed through and a happier gut. Make sure you spread your fibre intake out over the day and increase your fluid intake alongside it.

 

 Soluble Fibre:

Found in some fruit, vegetables oats and legumes. Try dried apricots and figs, oranges, nectarines, mango, pears, broccoli, carrots and potatoes as well as oats, rye, flaxseed, lentils, all beans and pear barley.

These foods can help control your blood sugar levels, it stops them rising too high too fast and so keeps your energy levels and hunger steady plus reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Soluble fibre may also play a role in reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. 

 

Insoluble Fibre:

Found in wholegrains, the skin of fruit and vegetables and wheat bran.

This is the fibre that keeps you regular but may also reduce the risk of colon cancer. 

 

How to Eat More Fibre:

  • Aim for 25-28 g per day, this is 6 servings.
  • Look for high fibre, wholegrain or bran on food labels.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables per day, the peel and the whole fruit contain the most fibre rather than the juice.
  • Use half white, half wholemeal flour in baking.
  • Add beans, pulses, lentils and barley to soups, stews, casseroles and curries.
  • Try roasted edamame beans and chickpeas as a snack, you can make these yourself.
  • Add seeds to salad, on top of breakfast cereal, in homemade cereal bars/flapjacks and in stir fries.
  • Have a handful of nuts as a snack.
  • Try lentil, bean or hummous as dips/spreads.
  • Make oaty bars for snacks with added dried fruit and seeds.

Spring Clean Your Body

 It’s officially spring/early summer,  the birds are singing and the sun is shining. A time to spring clean not only your house but also your body. Now is the time to really get motivated and ready for those summer clothes.

Dietitian UK: Spring Clean your Body
Dietitian UK: Spring Clean your Body

 

Top Tips:

  • Be more active everyday. With lighter evenings and better weather get outside. Build a walk into your lunchbreak or after work, gardening is great for toning and calorie burning, dust off that bike, try out an outside bootcamp or a new class. Try and build activity into your usual routine so you do it straight after work or walk to places and find things you enjoy, as you will be more likely to stick to them!
  •  Blitz your food cupboards. If they are full of unhealthy snacks and treats, give them away and build up a supply of healthier options.
  •  Spring clean your eating plans. It’s easy to get stuck into a rut eating the same meals each week. Take some time to look at new recipes and think about eating seasonally, right now that includes asparagus, cauliflower, new potatoes, radishes, cabbage, spinach and watercress. Add colour to meals with salads made not just of lettuce and tomato but try sweetcorn, grated carrot, raw broccoli, beetroot and sugar snap peas.
  •  Get gardening. Not only is it a great form of exercise but growing your own vegetables and herbs will add taste and enjoyment to your meals. You don’t need a large garden, a few pots will do the trick. 
  •  Plan, prepare and portion up healthy snacks on a quiet day or weekend to set you up for the week. Homemade smoothies, oaty bars, nuts and dried fruit, yoghurts or raw veggies and low fat dips are all great options.
  •  Swap some of those cups of tea and coffee for water, herbal teas or hot water with a slice of lemon to hydrate the body and leave you feeling energised.

Post written for Slimsticks

Eating Well in Pregnancy

Eating Well in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an important time to be focusing on your health and on eating well so both mum and baby get all they need to grow.

However pre-pregnancy is as important, you want your body to be in tip top form and able to provide the baby with all it needs, then continue eating well into pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding.

Top tips:

  • Reduce or cut out alcohol pre-pregnancy.
  • Super sizing your fruit and veggies, aim for more than 5 portions a day.
  • Take 400 µg of folic acid every day pre-pregnancy and for the first 12 week of pregnancy.
  • Wash all fruit, veggies and salads to remove any traces of soil which could contain toxoplasma.
  • Go wholegrain as often as possible with bread, pasta, rice and other starchy foods.
  • Up your iron stores by eating red meat, green leafy veggies, fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, tofu, pulses and beans regularly.
  • Eat regular meals and keep snacks healthy.

The big pregnancy myth is that you need to eat enough for 2. Unfortunately this isn’t true! The body becomes more efficient at using the food you give it. So you don’t need to eat any extra until the second and third trimester when you may need 2-300 kcals extra a day.

There are several foods that you need to stay away from when pregnant:

  • Mould ripened cheese (brie, camembert, goats cheese that has a hard rind).
  • Soft blue cheese (Danish blue, gorgonzola, roquefort).

Cheese made with mould can contain listeria, listeriosis can cause miscarriage and increase the risk of still birth.

  • Eggs should be well cooked, raw and undercooked eggs can cause salmonella poisoning. Avoid home made mayonnaise as well.
  • Pate can also contain listeria.
  • Raw and undercooked meat.
  • Liver, liver pate, liver sausage and other liver products, these contain high levels of vitamin A which can cause birth defects.
  • Alcohol should be avoided due to fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Caffeine should be limited to no more than 200mg per day (2 mugs of tea or instant coffee, 1 mug filter coffee). Watch out for caffeine in energy drinks, chocolate, hot chocolate and cola drinks.
  • Sword Fish, shark and marlin should be avoided due to the levels of mercury they can contain, oily fish should be limited to 2 portions a week due to the levels of PCB’s and dioxins (pollutants) in them.
  • Shellfish should only be eaten when properly cooked as these can also cause food poisoning.

 

This post was written for Slimsticks.

Carbohydrates, the Good Guys.

Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.

 

Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.

 

So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from? 

After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal.  If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.

 

What happens if you avoid Carbs:

If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?

 

How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:

  1. Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
  2. Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
  3. Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.

This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.